This excellent recipe for a classy black-bean soup has cognac to give it an extra flavor dimension.

Crema Conde (The Count’s Soup)

2 cups cooked black beans (Bush’s brand black beans are good if you’re not up to cooking beans from scratch)
4 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 small garlic clove, mashed
1/4 cup chopped onion
vegetable oil for frying
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt to taste (may not need any if the beans and chicken stock are salted)
pepper to taste
1/4 cup cognac
1 1/3 cup chicken stock
1 hard-cooked egg, shelled and put through a sieve (for garnish)

If using canned beans, drain and reserve liquid. In a blender, purée the beans, tomato, garlic, and onion; the texture will be thick and slightly coarse. Heat oil in a medium-size sauté pan over medium heat and add the bean mixture, oregano, salt, pepper, and cognac. Lower heat and fry the mixture for about 15 minutes, adding chicken stock and/or reserved bean liquid to thin. The final consistency should be that of a cream soup. Serve in individual bowls garnished with a sprinkle of hard-cooked egg. Serves 4.